Chatham’s completion rate at 69.8% as deadline approaches

Posted 9/25/20

As the deadline for the 2020 Census approaches, Chatham County Public Information Officer Kara Dudley — a member of the Chatham Complete Count Committee — spoke to the News + Record about the …

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Chatham’s completion rate at 69.8% as deadline approaches

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As the deadline for the 2020 Census approaches, Chatham County Public Information Officer Kara Dudley — a member of the Chatham Complete Count Committee — spoke to the News + Record about the importance for Chatham residents to take part in the nation’s

Chatham County was among the highest in terms of completing the census earlier in the spring and summer. Is that still the case coming closer to the deadline?

Since it initially began in April, Chatham County residents have stepped up to complete the 2020 Census. Currently with 69.8% completion, Chatham County remains ahead of the N.C. completion rate which is at 62.2% and the U.S. completion rate of 66.0%.

Chatham County’s response for the 2010 Census was 81%, so we want to do everything we can to surpass that and reach 100% completion.

We know it’s not a competition, but how does Chatham stack up in terms of census completion compared to other NC counties?

As of September 20 (the latest date in which data are available), Chatham County remains in the top 5 of North Carolina counties in regards to completing the 2020 Census. Here are the standings for the top 5 N.C. counties:

1) Union County – 73.7%

2) Wake County – 72.0%

3) Orange County – 71.9%

4) Davie County – 70.6%

5) Chatham County – 69.8%


Which areas of Chatham County have seen lower response rates?

Chatham County’s areas with the lowest response for the 2020 Census are Siler City, Bear Creek,

Goldston/Gulf and Matthews Township.


What is the county doing to reach these areas with lower response rates?

The Chatham Complete Count Committee (CCCC), which is made up of county, municipal, church, organization and business leaders across Chatham County, has been meeting regularly since summer 2019. Committee members have participated in numerous community outreach efforts for more than a year including: media outreach (such as interviews like this one); the Chatham County Census web page; social media channels including the county’s channels (Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor); professional and residential outreach channels of all CCCC members; flyer and poster distribution across the county through efforts of each committee member (including county and municipal government buildings, businesses, non-profits and clinics); information to the Chatham Council on Aging distributed through newsletters to seniors and area churches; yard signs posted outside buildings across the county; Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is deploying five electronic signs with census messaging in the lowest response areas week of Sept. 21.


What is the county doing to reach non-English speaking families to make them aware of the census?

The Hispanic Liaison is part of the CCCC, and the committee’s community outreach efforts include messaging in Spanish. Flyers in Spanish have been distributed to areas reaching our Latino population including food distribution events, stores and churches. Social media posts have been provided in Spanish, including a Facebook live event. Spanish-speaking media outlets have also been included in outreach efforts.


How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected outreach efforts that you had planned, and how has the county been able to adapt to still get the word out?

The CCCC had its own events planned as well as attending other community events across the county to have a presence and answer questions about the census for folks. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee has adapted and continued stepping up over the last several months, reaching people across our community. Whether it be through media stories, social media outreach or various other communications and signage across the county, the CCCC has maintained its focus to reach all pockets of the Chatham County community.


Why is completing the census so important, and for every Chatham County household to be counted?

Chatham County receives approximately $133 million in federal funds annually which support services including hospitals, schools, roads and emergency services. It also supports federal programs such as Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Head Start. The census is also an essential part of our democracy. Our numbers obtained from the census determine the number of seats North Carolina has in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data are also used for redistricting at the national, state and local levels. If not all Chatham County households are counted, then this funding and political representation could decrease, affecting our community for the next decade.


We keep hearing that completing the census “takes just a few minutes.” So…if I haven’t done it yet, walk me through what’s involved?

The Census is just 10 short questions for the person completing the questionnaire and 6 follow-up questions about each individual in the household. The Census can be completed online, by phone or by mail. You can visit, call 844-330-2020 or return the questionnaire that was mailed to you.

As you’ve spoken to people about the census, what are the most common excuses for NOT completing it – and how do you respond to those reasons?

Some common reasons for not completing the 2020 Census include people being too busy, their household not making a difference if they aren’t counted, and being reported if they aren’t a U.S. citizen.

Completing the 2020 Census is safe, easy and important. The census is safe: By law, your responses cannot be used against you or shared with any government agency, law enforcement, or even landlord. The census is easy: There are only 10 questions that take about 10 minutes to answer for 10 years of impact on Chatham County. The census is important: A good count means more money for local schools and other services for Chatham County residents.


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